International Trade and Child Labor: Cross-Country Evidence

38 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2004 Last revised: 12 May 2014

See all articles by Eric V. Edmonds

Eric V. Edmonds

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nina Pavcnik

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2004

Abstract

We explore the relationship between greater exposure to trade (as measured by openness) and child labor in a cross country setting. Our methodology accounts for the fact that trade flows are endogenous to child labor (and labor standards more generally) by examining the relationship between child labor and variation in trade based on geography. We find that countries that trade more have less child labor. At the cross-country means, the data suggest an openness elasticity of child labor of -0.7. For low-income countries, the elasticity of child labor with respect to trade with high income countries is -0.9. However, these relationships appear to be largely attributable to the positive association between trade and income. When we control for the endogeneity of trade and for cross-country income differences, the openness elasticity of child labor at cross-country means is much smaller (-0.1) and statistically insignificant. We consistently find a negative but statistically insignificant association between openness and child labor conditional on cross-country income differences when we split the sample into different country groups, consider only trade between high and low income countries, or focus on exports of unskilled-labor intensive products from low income countries. Thus, the cross-country data do not substantiate assertions that trade per se plays a significant role in perpetuating the high levels of child labor that pervade low-income countries.

Suggested Citation

Edmonds, Eric V. and Pavcnik, Nina, International Trade and Child Labor: Cross-Country Evidence (February 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10317. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=509848

Eric V. Edmonds (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

6106 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Nina Pavcnik

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

6106 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2537 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
51
Abstract Views
854
rank
317,565
PlumX Metrics